The Americans: Lies, Damn Lies, and Salvation

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This week on The Americans: Paige gets wet, Stan gets laid, Evi gets screwed, Nina gets a good meal, and the Jennings get stoned


Shall we gather by the river? Symbolically, of course. We open at church where Paige is about to get dunked in the water—for Christ. There’s guitar playing because this is the cool lefty crunchy granola brand of ol’ time religion. Philip and Elizabeth are sitting in the back row, as close to the nearest exit as possible.

Pastor Tim speaks about how Paige puts her heart into all her political actions. What a little warrior for Christ she is! She drafts letters protesting apartheid! Way to speak truth to power, Paige! She pickets harder than anyone. She YELLS. “But, Paige,” he says, “this is your most defiant action yet.” You’re right about that, Pastor Tim!

Unless Pastor Tim knows more than he's letting on, he may be slightly overselling the radical natural of baptism in 1980s America.

“You are such a radical for taking this action almost every single person you know has already done! Often as infants!”

How are her parents taking this? Philip’s expression is fairly unreadable. Relief? Does he still hold out the hope that if she’s with Christ, she won’t be with the KGB? Elizabeth smiles. Is she genuinely proud of her daughter’s ideals? Does she them as an opening? Or is she just being her usual covert, fake self?  When Tim lays hands on Paige, holds her, pushes her down into the water, we cut to Philip and think of him with Kimmi—another man taking a teenage girl for a cause.

From there it’s off to spy school. Young Hans is getting good at memorizing license plates. Maybe Elizabeth can take him to Gabriel’s later so they can practice “making it real” while sexing up old people. Gabe might enjoy that even more than Scrabble. Hans tells her about Todd, an undergrad he met at some anti-apartheid meetings whom he thinks might be secretly with the other side.

Over at the casa, Philip is helping Paige hang a poster in her bedroom. He talks to her about the baptism, then goes on to speak to her entirely in cliches: “Always stand up for your beliefs… Be your own person… Do what’s right for you, even if other people pressure you… I just want you to be happy.” Unfortunately, Paige has no idea that this code for: “Please say NO to your mother when she asks you to be a Soviet spy.”

Other the other hand, hanging this in her bed room might have been a little on the nose.

Other the other hand, hanging this in her bed room might have been a little on the nose.

Dinner time. Stan comes over to the Jennings’ with Tori from EST. Stan is still the only person paying attention to 12-year-old Henry, who thinks EST sounds weird. Stan agrees in front of Tori, who takes this very seriously. Is Stan trying NOT to get laid?

The way this scene if framed will give you a rough idea how

The way this scene if framed will give you a rough idea how important Henry is to this show.

In Soviet jail, Evi is trying to get Nina to eat. Nina confides that in America she had two lovers—one capitalist and one communist—and she loved them both in different ways. But in the end they loved their countries more than they loved her. Mens!

One of those no-goodnik mens, Stan, is now making out with Tori, but she stops him. “Where’s your head at? If we’re gonna do this, then I need you to be here.” She tells Stan he’s thinking about his ex-wife. He cops to that, and she undoes his belt. But we know he’s lying. He’s thinking about Nina.

And probably Cindi Lauper. It is the 80s.

And probably Phoebe Cates. It is the 80s.

How will Philip, a.k.a. sleazebag Jimmy, avoid having sex with Kimmi today? First, he gets her stoned and OMIGOD is that a mix tape? She listens to a cassette, which we are told is Pink Floyd, but it could be the Bay City Rollers for all we know. Apparently the rights cost too much, so we don’t actually hear the music. Did he figure the psychedelic sounds would lull her to sleep? It doesn’t work. She wants her some Jimmy-love. She wants them to take a bath together. He convinces her to take a bath by herself. While she’s in the tub, he lets in some NOT-Elizabeth spy-lady, who gets busy planting a bug.

Meantime, Elizabeth is home in bed looking miserable. Maybe she’s imagining Philip making love to a teenager and it’s not a turn-on. She grabs a cigarette and goes into the garage. Paige busts her and is totally parental about it—in a good way. They start to talk about church, which Elizabeth admits is not her thing. Did she PLAN on getting caught with the cigarette in order to have this “honest” conversation?

Kimmi comes out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel, but the bug-lady is still working in the next room, so Philip tells Kimmi he was about to go to his car to get something for her and orders her to wait. He grabs bug-lady’s earrings and comes back with them. Kimmi starts kissing him. She takes off the towel, and he puts it back on. What’s his excuse? Jesus! No, really, that’s his excuse. He’s thinking of having a new life with God, so he wants to take things slowly.

Philip's savior

Philip’s savior

Over in Soviet jail, Nina has gotten Evi—who still believes in love—to admit she left the package for her boyfriend…and knew what she was doing.

When Philip comes home, Elizabeth tells him, “The center wants us to follow that 19-year-old super spy provocateur that Hans is worried about.” That was pretty specific, so it’s bound to come up again. Philip has brought home a joint. They go to the window, blowing the smoke out like teenagers. Philip tells her how Jesus was his savior. Elizabeth seems relieved.

The next day, over at the FBI, Martha is waiting for the machine that normally spews out the classified documents she’s been taking home to “help” Clark. Only, nothing is coming out. The new guy tells her there’s not going to be any more coming. Before we get any explanation for this life-changing news, he tells Stan about a plane crash in which Stan’s friend from FBI training was killed. This too, one hopes, will be relevant.

Nina is in the interrogation room, where she is enjoying a good meal with wine.

Over a game of Scrabble, Gabe tells Philip they need weekly, not monthly, reports on the bug. So he’s going to have to get on the stick with Kimmi, or rather, Kimmi is going to have to get on his stick. He lets drop that Irina was captured in Brazil and fessed up about Mischa, her son with Philip, who actually exists. Mischa’s now a soldier in Afghanistan, and if I’m reading my Soviet code correctly, his safety directly depends on Philip’s actions. Looks like the war just got a lot more personal for Philip.

americans 3.6 gabe

“And, seriously, don’t skimp the details in your next report on Kimmi.”

Philip and Elizabeth are in the darkroom. Looks like Philip is about to tell Elizabeth about Mischa, but she starts talking about Paige and the moment passes. Instead, he just tells her he won’t be able to “go slow” with Kimmi.

Gabe and Elizabeth confer about Hans’ intel. Sounds like the NIS might be planning some bombings to discredit the anti-apartheid movement. “I think Mr. Reagan has made some very bad friends,” Gabe says. THIS WAS TRUE! The U.S. used to embed agents into left-wing organizations all the time to goad them into violent acts that lost them support. Thank you, show for not completely distorting history this week—YET! Then they talk about Paige. Uh-oh.

Evi is taken from her cell, yelling, “Nina, what did you do? What did you do?” Nina stares blankly, angry at Evi maybe, for making it so easy. The womens are so stupid!

"Eh, I've done worse things for a steak dinner."

“Eh, I’ve done worse things for a steak dinner.”

Jimmy waits for Kimmi outside her school, just like Woody Allen waiting for his high school love interest in Manhattan. She’s tells him she’s kind of busy, clearly freaked by his recent conversion, but he presses on, telling her he can’t stop thinking about her. Of course, as Nina could tell you, that’s all it takes, and she invites him over.

If you see this guy hanging around outside a high school, the very best thing you can hope for is that he's just selling drugs.

If you see this guy hanging around outside a high school, the very best thing you can hope for is that he’s just selling drugs.

He manages to avoid having sex with her, this time by blending in another half-truth, telling her about the girl he got pregnant when he was seventeen. Now he can’t see his son and it’s messed up. “This is going to sound crazy, but would you pray with me right now?” Somehow this works. It’s a miracle!

Meantime, Elizabeth is taking Paige on a reality tour of the ghetto. She tells her it’s where Gregory lived, and both Elizabeth and Philip worked with him in the civil rights movement. Given that her parents don’t have any black friends, or any friends at all, and never talk politics at home, Paige looks shell-shocked. Elizabeth tells her they “didn’t just sing songs and march, but fought in other ways.” Paige wants to know why she brought her there and is telling her all this. “I brought you here to show you that I’m more like you than you think.”

americans 3.6 in the ghetto

Will there ever be a point where we can hear the phrase “in the ghetto” and not think of Elvis?

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

TV Show: The Americans

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  • Little Lulu

    Perfect recap! Not a word wasted.